KC: How did Pat and Brenda come to take the reins?
Carolyn: Each seminar that was scheduled at the farm had a consultant or contractor to work with us. A consultant scheduled to work with us in a seminar had to cancel at the last minute due to health reasons, and we asked Pat to come in and teach on an emergency basis – Pat lives only an hour from the farm. And he was great, pretty much teaching just as he does now, explaining things so clearly and so well and feeling very comfortable in front of a group of peers.
Don: He loves it -
Carolyn: - and a little later, Janine Masten, who was with EV at the time –
Don: - sharp lady –
Carolyn: - this was in 1995, and she called to ask if Don would break his rule and go to Europe to teach for them. I was sure Don would say no, but instead he turned around said, “I’ll do it if Pat Brown comes with us.”
Don: And they said yes -
Carolyn: - and when they finished the classes, Larry Frandsen (head of Mark IV Audio Europe at the time) invited us to come back the next year. Don declined, but as he did so, Larry immediately turned to Pat. Pat accepted – which was what Don had in mind when he asked for Pat to be included in the tour.
That trip lasted about three weeks, and during that entire period I didn’t call to check in with the office, and it was such a relief. It felt like it was time for us to move on, and we asked Pat if he would take over. He talked it over with Brenda, who was a very successful nurse at the time, and she gave her support. Gradually, she worked into the business more and more and now has taken on a full partner role with Pat.
Don: Well, Brenda’s very sharp, very on top of things, understands the technical part in addition to her business talents. They also have a very spiritual side to them, that we love -
Carolyn: - they don’t talk about it much. They’re so ethical and we take a lot of pride in that.
KC: What’s the biggest difference in SynAudCon now, in comparison to what you handed off to Pat and Brenda?
Don: Pat has computerized the teaching process, has brought it the rest of the way into the digital age.
Carolyn: At a seminar or workshop, everything you see Pat doing with the computers and video screens, Don used to do with slides and overhead projectors.
Don: We have preached digital revolution for 20 years, that it would be the way to go, the way of the future. It’s interesting to look at the space race – a lot of people think all of their money was just shot to the moon, but actually a very small amount of hardware went there. The big thing to come out of it is the ideas, the outflow of technical creativity.
Don: Pat and Brenda have done another vital thing, and that is to go places where we had never gone. Mexico, South America, Jordan, India, Dubai -
Carolyn: - and he’s invited to China -
Don: - and that’s invaluable. He’s spreading the knowledge. In the late ‘50s, Carolyn and I worked at the American National Exhibition in Russia, an exchange fair between them and the U.S. We were showing audio equipment.
Don and Carolyn receiving the Adele De Berri Pioneers of AV Award at the 2010 InfoComm show.
Recently, I was interested to read a book written by a former top KGB agent who noted the most subversive thing that ever happened between the U.S. and Soviet Union was this exchange, that it changed more things in Soviet Russia than anything else. He was kind of tongue in cheek about the subversive part, but what he was saying is true.
As the SynAudCon attitude gets around, the idea that you share the information rather than hold it close, as that philosophy gets into new places, it’s fascinating to see what comes about. SynAudCon became a society, a family really, without meaning to, based on this idea of sharing information.
Carolyn: Along these lines, the web site and what Pat does with the list serve is unbelievable, and the newsletter keeps going strong. This all goes with being a society. It’s just amazing that top professionals in this industry will gladly tell everything they know through these channels, unselfishly and for the benefit of anyone willing to learn.
Sound System Engineering
If Bad Sound Were Fatal, Audio Would be the Leading Cause of Death